Stores selling warm clothing see sales increase in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS -- Cold weather in Fairbanks has meant a booming business for merchants who sell warm clothes.

The temperature dropped to 35 degrees below zero Wednesday and hit that mark through Saturday, the first time that has happened for four straight days so early in winter, according to the National Weather Service.

Plummeting temperatures sent people in need of cold-weather gear to area stores, including Amanda York, who was among dozens of shoppers Saturday at Big Ray's. She told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner she needed warm boots and a thicker jacket. Her mother offered to help the University of Alaska Fairbanks student replace clothing she'd worn so far.

"I didn't have anything that was good lower than 15 below, so I needed everything," York said.

Merchants started seeing more customers in their aisles as soon as the weather turned colder.

"We've definitely been tremendously busy," said J.R. Merritt, sales floor supervisor at Big Ray's. "We benefit when the first snow flies -- it's like a madhouse -- and when the temperature drops."

Cab companies and tow truck drivers also saw a surge in business. A spokesman for Arctic Taxi said business spiked by more than 25 percent in the last week as motorists dealt with dead batteries or other problems brought on by the cold.

"It picks up really dramatically in here," said manager Harvey Wallace. "Our volume of calls just goes through the roof."

Darrell Cook, owner of an indoor mini-golf course, Glow Putt Alaska, said his business usually takes off in the cold as people turn to indoor activities. That was not the case last week.

"I think it's because it's the first cold snap of the winter and people weren't expecting it," he said.

Temperatures were expected to remain well below normal but forecasters said mild relief could be on the way by Tuesday. They're predicting overcast skies that should increase temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees.

"It's still going to be cold, but with the cloud cover it shouldn't get any colder," said National Weather Service forecaster Julie Malingowski.

As of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, it was only 28 below, Malingowski said.

"It's really warm today," she said, laughing, though the forecast indicated temperatures could fall to 40 below zero overnight.

Associated Press